USC's Men's & Women's Teams Place 2nd At Pac-12 T&F Championships

    Andre De Grasse was named the Pac-12 Men's Athlete of the Meet as he wn the 100m, 200m and was part of the winning 4x100m relay.
    May 17, 2015

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    Both the USC women's and men's team's placed second as the Trojans won 13 event titles at the 2015 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships hosted by UCLA in Westwood, Calif. today (May 17). Andre De Grasse was named the Pac-12's Men's Athlete of the Meet as he had electrifying wins in the 100m and 200m and ran a leg for USC's winning 4x100m relay team.

    "We had an outstanding meet this weekend," said USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. "Both the men and women displayed extraordinary courage and competed with tenacity. I am very proud of the performances and our 13 Pac 12 Champions. We came together as a team and family and all of our efforts allowed us to score over 150 points on the women's side and over 60 points on the men's side on day two alone. We had quite a few personal bests and just about everyone on our team scored points. When you face a dominant team like Oregon there is no room for mistakes and we fell shy in a few areas that cost us the championship. We had finals and graduation last week so now its time to rest and train for the NCAA Championships in two weeks."

    The USC women's team entered the day trailing eventual winner Oregon by 56 points and the lead swelled to 63 points before the Trojans mounted a valiant rally, with the meet not decided until the final event, the women's 4x400m relay. USC won the 4x400m relay behind a team of junior Jaide Stepter, sophomore Amalie Iuel, freshman Kendall Ellis and senior Vanessa Jones with a season-best time of 3:32.12, but needed Oregon to finish at least fourth for a tie, but the Ducks took second by less than three-quarters of a second over Stanford and Arizona State to hold on for a 185-182 victory. USC's point total was the most ever by a second place team and they won seven event titles, more than any other school

    The men's team began the day 27 points behind Oregon and systematically closed the gap all day, but after taking a brief late lead at 115-107, the Trojans ran out of bullets and settled for second behind Oregon, 152-121. The men's point total was the most scored by a second place team since USC was second to Oregon in 2010 by a score of 168.5-156. USC won six event titles, more than any other school.

    The junior De Grasse earned 22.5 points during the championship meet by winning the 100m and 200m dashes and being a quarter of USC's winning 4x100m relay. He began his day by taking a small lead in the 4x100m relay after the first pass and making it a huge gap as the Trojans cruised to victory with a time of 39.17. He then stirred up the crowd with his scintillating 100m win, pulling away from the pack to win with a USC, Pac-12 Meet and Drake Stadium record of 9.97 (+0.6). He broke the former USC record of 10.02 which was set by James Sanford in 1980 and the conference meet record of 10.03 set by Ato Bolden in 1996. He now trails only Bolden's 9.90 time set in 1996 on the Pac-12 all-time list. De Grasse then won the men's 200m dash with a time of 20.05 (-0.1) which would have been nearly as amazing as his 100m feat had he not run 20.03 in the prelims yesterday which set the Canadian record and moved him into a second-place tie on USC's all-time list.

    USC began its day at 9 a.m. in the women's hammer throw with senior Jenny Ozorai placing fourth and senior Alexandra Collatz eighth. Ozorai's best mark came in her fourth attempt with a throw of 191-8 (58.43m), while Collatz' top throw came in her first attempt which went for 183-6 (55.94m). She was in seventh entering the final round, but Maggie Ewen of Arizona State who was in ninth place launched a throw of 188-3 in the final round to bump her down to eighth. Also competing in the hammer throw today were sophomore Tanya Sapa who had a best throw of 164-3 (50.07m) to finish 14th and redshirt sophomore Erika Peyton who had a best throw of 153-2 (46.70m) to finish 18th. USC earned six points in the event, but now trailed Oregon by 61 points (88-27).

    The women's 4x100m relay team of freshman Deanna Hill, freshman Ky Westbrook, junior Alexis Faulknor and redshirt junior Tynia Gaither got the running portion of the day started with a bang posting a winning time of 43.10. Their time broke the meet record set last season by USC (43.21) and ranks third all-time by a Pac-12 squad which are all owned by the Trojans. The 10 points for USC and a second-place finish for Oregon meant the Trojan women now trailed 97-38.

    USC's men's 4x100m relay team of senior BeeJay Lee, De Grasse, junior Just'N Thymes and senior Bryan Mercado then won the men's race with a time of 39.17. They secured USC's first 10 points of the day and trailed Oregon 61-36.

    USC did not have any athletes running in the 1500m races, so after that event the women's team trailed 101-38 and the men's team trailed 69-36.

    Collatz then came back to team with junior Tera Novy to earn USC 13 more points by placing fourth and second respectively in the women's discus throw. Novy's best throw on the day was 185-9 (56.63m) which came in her final attempt. Collatz best throw was in her second attempt, a mark of 179-11 (54.84m). After that event, USC was down 101-51.

    Freshman Dior Hall then became the Pac-12 100m HH champion in a great come-from-behind win with a lean at the wire to finish with a time of 12.99 (-0.4). Senior Melia Cox took third place with a time of 13.48 (-0.4) and Iuel was seventh with a time of 14.11 (-0.4). They earned 18 team points and now trailed 109-69.

    "I knew Sasha (Wallace) was ahead of me," said Hall. "She was outhurdling me at the beginning so I knew I had to hit another gear and try and catch up to her and I knew how high I needed to score in order for us to try and win Pac-12s, so I just knew that if I get her at the last hurdle and outrace her to the finish line, then hopefully I'll beat her."

    Another freshman Pac-12 hurdles champion was named moments later when Marquis Morris also came-from-behind to win at the wire with a wind-legal PR of 13.95 (-0.9). Redshirt senior D.J. Morgan was at the lead mid-race, but had to pull up and did not finish the race. The Trojans gained 10 more points, but Oregon took second so the score was now 77-46, 31 point behind and charging.

    "The thing about USC is that we are family," said Morris. "The meetings that we had this weekend were all about family. All about doing something amazing for the teammates next to you that put in as much effort as you did and pushed you through the season. My only motivation was my team when I was running out there. Just going to get it for my team, that's what happened today."

    The women's triple jump which began at 11:30 a.m. was finally concluded with Cox taking third place with a season-best wind-aided jump of 41-11.25/12.78m (+2.3w). She also had a season best legal jump of 41-7.00/12.67m (-0.2). Oregon's jumpers finished first and second so the Trojans now trailed 127-75.

    USC then had a very strong showing in the women's 400m race with Jones winning with a PR of 51.50 to move into second place on USC's all-time list in the event and eighth all-time by a Pac-12 runner. Jones became just the second USC women to win the Pac-12 400m title, with the other being in the first Pac-12 Meet in 1987 by Gervaise McCraw. Ellis also had a PR of 52.88 to finish fifth and better her USC freshman record and her eighth-place standing on USC's all-time list. Senior Akawkaw Ncha-Ndip took sixth with a PR of 53.00 which moved her into 10th on USC's all-time list and sophomore Cameron Pettigrew was seventh with a PR of 53.28. The Trojans scored 19 points in the event and now trailed 133-94.

    "It feels awesome," said Jones about winning the title. "I've been picturing my race over and over, and I couldn't even sleep. I knew it was destined for me. It was just across town, all my family was here, I've been working hard and I knew I was going to come out with the win."

    Senior Davonte Stewart and freshman Ricky Morgan also had PRs in the men's 400m race, with Stewart taking second with a time of 46.34 and Morgan finishing fifth with a time of 46.63. The pair teamed up to score 12 points and trim the deficit to 87-58.

    Now the fun began for the Trojans. USC's women took second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the 100m dash, lead by Gaither who had a PR of 11.27 (+1.1) to finish second and move into ninth on USC's all-time list. Westbrook took third place with a time of 11.36 (+1.1) and Faulknor, who was bumped from 10th to 11th on USC's all-time list by Gaither's run, was fourth with a time of 11.36 (+1.1). Hill placed fifth with a time of 11.45 (+1.1) and sophomore Destinee Brown finished sixth with a time of 11.66 (+1.1). Freshman Gabriella Cantrell finished in ninth with a time of 11.72 (+1.1). USC earned 26 points in the 100m dash and now trailed 143-120.

    The men's team also inched closer to the lead after the 100m dash. De Grasse won with his meet-record time of 9.97 (+0.6) and he was followed up by Lee who took second with a time of 10.16. Freshman Adoree' Jackson placed seventh with a PR of 10.48 (+0.6). The trio earned USC 20 points and they now trailed 92-78.

    "I just go out there and focus, run my race," said De Grasse. "Just focus on me, don't worry about anybody else. I wasn't worried about breaking any records. Just worried about lowering my time, beating myself."

    USC did not have a woman in the 800m final and Oregon took first, second and seventh to open the lead up to 163-120, but the Trojans were far from done.

    Freshman Robert Ford had a PR of more than a second to place fourth with a time of 1:48.14 in the men's 800m race. Following this event, USC trailed 92-83.

    Next Stepter and Iuel took first and second in the women's 400m IH race. Stepter won with a time of 55.85, just off her PR, to win her second consecutive Pac-12 400m IH title. The only other Trojan to win the event more than once was school record-holder Natasha Danvers who took the crown in 1998-2000. Iuel had a time of 56.06 to finish second. The pair's 18 points cut the lead to 163-138.

    "I'm just so excited because we've been training for this, I've been praying for it since august, since we started practice in September," said Stepter. "It's just so exciting to be able to do it and be able to repeat a Pac-12 title, it's so amazing. And being able to have my teammate as my biggest competition is such a privilege for both of us to be able to have the pressure on each other every day at practice."

    The 400m IH race for the men was not so kind as the Trojans did not have an athlete in the final and an Oregon runner won to extend their lead to 102-83.

    The men's high jump concluded at that time and freshman Randall Cunningham placed second with a clearance of 7-1.00 (2.16m). He narrowly missed on all three of his attempts at 7-2.25 (2.19m). Senior Michael Krone placed ninth in the event with a clearance at 6-9.50 (2.07m). After this event USC trailed 102-91.

    The 200m races vaulted the Trojans into the lead on both sides. First the women had seven runners reach the final which is believed to be a record in a sprint race at the conference meet. Oregon's one runner in the race Jasmine Todd had a slight lead halfway down the back stretch, but three Trojans caught her by the finish line. Gaither won with a season-best time of 22.97 (+0.7), Faulknor was second with a PR of 23.08 (+0.7) and Hill was third with a time of 23.14 (+0.7). Jones took fifth with a time of 23.46 (+0.7), Cantrell was sixth with a time of 23.55 (+0.7), Westbrook was seventh with a time of 23.58 (+0.7) and Brown was eighth with a time of 23,83 (+0.7). USC amassed 34 points in the race to move ahead 172-168.

    USC then claimed the first three spots in the men's 200m final with De Grasse winning with a time of 20.05 (-0.1), Lee taking second with a time of 20.46 (-0.1) and Thymes placing third with a time of 20.75 (-0.1). USC gained 24 points in the 200m race and now lead 115-107 with four events left.

    USC did not have an athlete in the women's pole vault and Oregon did not score, so the stage was set with just thee 5000m race and the 4x400m relay remaining and USC leading 172-168.

    The Trojans were going to need help as Oregon had six runners in the event. USC junior Katerina Berdousi had a season-best time of 17:08.08 to better her seventh-place standing on USC's all-time list and finished 17th. Senior Kira Soderstrom place 26th with a PR of 17:40.52. Oregon, however, finished fifth, sixth and seventh to take a 177-172 lead, meaning that if USC won the 4x400m relay, Oregon had to finish fourth or less, but they took second for the winning 185-182 margin.

    Just as it did for the women's team, the 5000m race all but secured the victory for the Oregon. USC did not have a runner and Oregon gained 25 points in the event to take the lead back for good at 132-115.

    Senior Allen Williams placed 11th in the men's triple jump with a best mark at 47-11.25/14.61m (-1.0). Freshman Dominic Smallwood finished 12th with a best jump of 47-9.75/14.57m (+0.6) and senior Jabre Millon took 14th with a PR of 44-11.00/13.69m (+1.2). Oregon scored six points to stretch the lead to 138-115.

    The final individual to compete in an event was freshman Nick Ponzio and he took eighth in the men's discus throw with a mark of 173-10 (52.99m). Ponzio had his best throw in his final attempt to jump into the scoring column. He gained a point for USC, setting up the final race.

    The USC men ran a 4x400m relay team of Morgan, Jackson, Ford and senior Myles Andrews and they placed fourth with a time of 3:11.94 to earn the Trojans five points.

    The Trojans next will be in action at the 2015 NCAA West Preliminary Rounds hosted by Texas in Austin, Texas from May 28-30.

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